continued from page 8 and National Revolutionary Movement candidate for the legislative assembly, is not so sure. “This is a transplant from another political system. We don’t know whether it will take.” Villarreal, of Southwest Voter, said he is encouraged to see volunteers and staff of political parties even talking about door-todoor campaigns. But he is not sure that they will use them. “They know there’s a lot of discontent with the government. And they assume that discontent is support for them. But even if it is, there’s a difference between having support and turning that support out. It could be that the Southwest approach is the only way Convergence candidates can compete. They will have to go retail up against ARENA’s sophisticated wholesale political campaign. ARENA, flush with funds and its 1988 presidential and legislative victory, has for months run a media-saturation campaign that includes prime-time TV spots and documentaries about the party, interspersed with slick government TV spots that depict public works projects in different regions of the country. The party even sponsors the evening movie. “Do you wonder what happened to tobacco ads?” a man in a bar near the U.S. embassy asked rhetorically. “They’ve been replaced by ARENA ads.” The party has even bought the rights to Mexican pop singer Emanuel’s “Chica de Humo,” then rewritten the lyrics. Already a pop culture fixture in its original form, it will now be impossible for anyone who lived through a week of this political campaign to associate “Chica” with anything except ARENA. \(I was whistling one version or another when my bus What is on the line in the current election are 84 seats in the national legislative assembly \(increased by 24 seats because of United Nations pressure for more representative of El Salvador’s 250 municipalities. The new Democratic Convergence caught the ruling party by surprise, fielding a candidate for every legislative position. They didn’t fare so well with candidates for municipal offices; politics, intimidation, and the potential for retribution are more personal at the municipal level. uis Monge, a Convergencia candidate for an alternate legislative seat in El Salvador, who was also responsible for the documentation for all of his party’s legislative candidates, said much of the credit for a full slate of legislative candidates goes to Southwest Voter and CaPaz. Southwest didn’t work for individual parties, Monge said, but their presence, and particularly the creation of CaPaz, helped unite the three-year-old coalition. “CaPaz served as an instrument holding the parties together,” said Monge, a sociologist and union official. According to Monge, it was important that the three parties, which maintain separate offices and identities, collaborate in something greater than an election campaign. Voter 14 MARCH 8, 1991 registration and education provided that opportunity. The Convergencia now hopes to pick up 15 of the 84 seats in the legislative assembly. Then, working in a coalition with the Christian Democrats, and perhaps one other minority party, deny the ARENA party its current majority status. Villarreal sees 15 seats as an ambitious goal; the political officer at the U.S. embassy predicts seven; and a capital city cabdriver survey, always with a wide margin of error, augurs a disappointing outcome for the Democratic Convergence. Some on the left are hoping for something akin to the Sandinista surprise, in which a majority party campaigns all out, only to be stunned by an unanticipated backlash at the polls. But there are major differences in Nicaragua and El Salvador most of which have to do with U.S. foreign policy. El Salvador is second only to Israel in the amount of U.S. aid received. That money, including much of the military aid, has to got be invested somewhere. According to an extensive study by journalists Tom Gibb and Frank Smyth, military officers have siphoned off large sums of money and are now major players in the Salvadoran economy, investing in the service sector and even acquiring banks. The result of the infusion of $1.5 million a day is evident, particularly in the capital, San Salvador. Nicaragua, on the other hand, was strangled by a U.S. boycott. It was protracted economic decay, as well as a U.S.-sponsored war, that brought about the Sandinistas’ defeat. The big prize here in Salvador will come in 1994, when, as occurs only every 15 years, everything is up for grabs: the presidency, vice presidency, judicial posts, and the legislative and municipal seats. It is difficult, Armando Villarreal said, for minority parties to keep their energies focused on this election. “Some of them are already thinking of 1994,” he said. “That’s a bad sign.’ he key to real change, Villarreal contends, is electoral empowerment. This is a crowded country and most of that crowd doesn’t vote; Salvadorans compete with the United States in the area of low and decreasing voter turnout. Villarreal predicts that the left won’t do a Southwest door-to-door campaign this election. \(And Southwest Voter “Then, when they see that they didn’t , turn out their vote, then they’ll do it in 1994.” But the Convergence needs a respectable showing this March in order to get some of their leadership into the legislative assembly, and establish enough credibility to raise money internationaly. That’s a short-term strategy. The real solution, Villarreal maintains, is turning out the marginal population by far the majority in this country. “That’s the lesson from Southwest,” he said. “And if you’re not in it for the long haul, you’re not in it.” continued from page 2 the chapter board president, watched Harrington instruct one of these new members how to complete his ballot. The slate won in a landslide. I heard a number of people, one of them Harrington, congratulate Raymond for her success and say, “We did it.” One of the slate’s first actions, I later learned, was to meet with Harrington to strategize. Thus began the end. One result of this election certainly was a welcome increase in the number of people of color on the chapter board. Another was the appearance of new people with fresh energy, a commodity badly in need in the its own financial crisis. We had a number of important projects in progress at the time of the election: the creation of a computerized data base of our membership records, the design of a long-term and widespread fundraising campaign so that we could, for one, afford to hire another director, and the development of a community education and information project. Most important, however, was the revitalization of our cooperating attorney program, through which we were able to link citizens in need with appropriate legal help. The most enduring legacy of that election, however, was not the continuation of this work, because it did not continue. It was instead mistrust and bad feelings, an us-them split that ultimately destroyed the ability of the new board to work together. This happened because the focus of our existence changed. It changed from defending the civil liberties of ordinary people to saving Jim Harrington’s job. Once he became the center of our attention, we were bound to fail and we did. In the next six months, the rancor on the chapter board, something we all wanted deeply to avoid, increased because we were focusing on issues about which we could not agree, issues that were not the reason for our existence. By the end of the year, the entire board, slate and all, had resigned. What resulted from that election? A heart-breaking waste of energy, time, and good will. And in the end, Harrington lost his job anyway. The real result of this is i sadly, that a healing process, if it is possible at all, will take years to accomplish. As in any civil war, the survivors have to go on living together, but they always remember whose side they were on. Nancy Baker Jones Former Board Vice . President, CTCLU 1.?,i’leti ,r1.0 4Nito;-041$0.4 ,FOT .,”*0040.410,!1″:1! +it .00..7.!?.74.**!’,F1441,,,Msoe.0.0 ,et* akdft#A7ttprioluzpo+pctw er. ,44,44…goo*Top ,orftjo. weiweawiyellt,
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